Nantucket Bay Scallop Information and History

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Bay Scallops

There are many varieties of bay scallops, but none is as sought after by chefs and gourmets around the world as  Bay Scallops from Nantucket.  This gourmet delicacy is favored by the kitchens of five-star restaurants, and prominently featured in gourmet markets from New York to San Francisco.


Nantucket’s waters are known among shellfish biologists, fishmongers and seafood connoisseurs as harboring the last remaining viable bay scallop population on the East Coast of the United States.


From the mid-1870s to the early 1980s, bay scallops were harvested commercially along the East Coast. Shrinking habitat, overfishing and pollution eventually led to the bay scallop’s decline. Nantucket's commercial fishery is the world's oldest continually sustained wild bay scallop fishery.  Its limited seasonal catch is available fresh only from November through the end of March.

Bay scallop shell in sand

Sea Scallops

Sometimes called weathervane scallops, are those you see  most restaurant menus. They a   seared or sliced thin and often served raw as sushi or crudo.


Sea scallops are usually harvested using large scallop dredges or bottom trawl. Some are harvested by divers and hand-caught on the ocean floor. Diver scallops tend to be less gritty and arrive at market quicker and are therefore usually fresher.

Sea scallop from Nantucket

© Nantucket Shellfish Association